Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mayan ruins in Honduras: An ode to knee replacement surgery!

45,000 Mayans used to live in Copan at its heyday, back in 900 AD. And apparently all of them thought that if they could only get closer to the skies, they could also get closer to the gods. So they built a bunch of step pyramids. Obviously no one lived to be really old in Copan -- because if they did, they probably would have invented knee replacement surgery so that they could still go up and down all those stairs.

Or maybe the Mayans did have knee replacement surgery. Who knows? They probably even had a decent healthcare plan too. And as I hobbled around the Copan ruins in the hot morning sun, the whole idea of knee-replacement surgery became more and more attractive to me. But will MediCare pay for it? I'll find out when I get back to the states.

PS: Here´s a video I took of the Mayan ruins in Copan. And also the guides here asked me to tell you that going to Copan these days is perfectly safe and that the town badly needs money from tourists and to get yourselves down here ASAP!

PPS: When I got back from visiting the ruins, I cornered some Honduran guy in a restaurant (excellent tacos!) in the town of Copan and grilled him regarding his opinions on Honduran politics. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "Perhaps I probably shouldn't be asking you about Honduran politics?"

Him: "Sure, go ahead. Ask away."

"What´s the story with former president Zelaya? What do you think about him?"

"Zelaya was a good guy but he was bucking the system. People in charge here didn't like it that he was spending so much money on healthcare and education so they started a media campaign to discredit him. And it worked. Honduras is run by the rich."

"Hey, that's just the same as like in the United States!"

"And the wealthy here own all the media..." Same thing as back in the States!

"And so the privileged classes started a smear campaign against Zelaya, telling the people that he was planning to take over and make himself President-for-Life." Spreading evil rumors about good men and women who only want to be of service to their fellow citizens? How American is that! Is there a Honduran equivalent of Sarah Palin, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh down here? I wonder.

"Anyway, the press had all the Hondurans tied up in knots with fear. And so some of them turned against Zelaya because they were made afraid. But others still supported Zelaya. And pretty soon half of the country was turning against the other half -- while the rich stole everything right out from under their noses."

Yep. The U.S. is exactly like that.

"And of course the money that would have gone for healthcare and schools under Zelaya is now going into the pockets of wealthy bankers, landowners and contractors and to pay for 'security teams' and drivers and fancy cars and maids and nannies for rich senators."

Wow! We have that happening in the U.S. too.

PPPS: The Mayans ran a powerful civilization here for centuries, but then they started fighting among themselves and also making their class system more and more stringent, like some elite system of feudal lords and their serfs. The wealthy ran everything here -- and look what happened to them! Copan is now just a big pile of ruins out in the jungle.

So. If the elite of Honduras keep on plundering the working classes here today in the same way that the Mayans did here a thousand years ago, will the modern-day capital of Honduras also someday be reduced to just another ruined pile of broken stones?

And will this guaranteed repetition of history -- which always occurs sooner or later whenever rich guys exploit the people under them -- also be happening soon in Washington DC?

"Hey, that's just the same as like in the United States!"